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Ex-US, UK Lawmakers: GOP Can Learn From Center-Right Brits

By    |   Thursday, 21 May 2015 08:40 PM

Conservative writer David Frum was correct when he wrote in The Atlantic magazine this month that Republicans should look abroad to the likes of British Prime Minister David Cameron for guidance on winning national elections, say two former lawmakers from the right side of the political aisle.

"I think center-right politicians are the future of the party," former U.S. Rep. Michael Flanagan, an Illinois Republican, told "MidPoint" guest host Ric Blackwell on Newsmax TV Thursday in a panel discussion with John Browne, a former Conservative member of the U.K. Parliament.

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The example of newly re-elected Conservative leader Cameron has limits, said lobbyist and political analyst Flanagan. National healthcare, which Great Britain has and Tories support, is "a bridge too far right now" for Republicans concerned by the expansion of government under the Affordable Care Act, he said.

But as Frum observed, Cameron has governed as a conservative — cutting taxes, privatizing some government services, limiting immigration, and denouncing radical Islam — while maintaining a broad enough political appeal to win consecutive national elections.

Republicans have lost four of the last six presidential elections, although they arguably nominated centrist candidates, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, in the party's last two losing White House bids.

Flanagan and Browne both said the GOP can also help itself in 2016 by taking a cue from the Conservatives and downplaying a divisive social issue: same-sex marriage, which is taken for granted as the law of the land in the U.K.

"Politics evolves," said Browne, "and if you just take two instances — for example, the Conservative Party in England has accepted the gay movement, and even more important than that, it has accepted that in today's world, along with old-age pensions and social security, national medical services are available to the public."

Browne argued that Republicans create a "dilemma" for themselves when they "come along and say we're going to reform Obamacare but they put nothing up in its place."

Flanagan countered that Republicans in Congress have at least three Obamacare alternatives on offer, and he said that on gay marriage, the GOP is moving toward the British-style conservative attitude.

"They're doing it at arm's length now, but by the time the [2016 presidential] election comes, they'll have their arms around it, and the large number of gay Republicans in this country can more or less come out and say, 'We're here and the crazy left doesn't speak for us,'" said Flanagan. "That'll be a very healthy episode for the party."

"Republicans are through killing ourselves trying to get the perfect [candidate]," he said, "and we're willing to elect the electable. And we're waiting for a guy who has enough charisma to beat a Democrat, and we'll coalesce around him.

"And it won't be the guy with the most money, necessarily, and it won't be the guy who's ideologically pure," Flanagan said. "Those will be good helpers to a nominee, but our nominee will be an electable one."

Browne nominated Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, as a Republican candidate who represents "a fantastic ideal" — an African-American who rose from humble beginnings and overcame great obstacles — and as someone "able to capture the minds of various segments of the Republican Party."

Whoever GOP primary voters pick next year, said Flanagan, "a center-right candidate is more electable than a right-right candidate, and a center-right president could put some of the right-right guys into the Cabinet, into the government, and work on some of the issues that are important to them. But it doesn't have to be that guy who is at the top of the ticket."

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Conservative writer David Frum was correct when he wrote in The Atlantic this month that Republicans should look abroad to the likes of British Prime Minister David Cameron for guidance on winning national elections, say two former lawmakers from the right side of the political aisle.
David Cameron, Michael Flanagan, John Browne, Republicans, GOP, learn, British, center-right
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Thursday, 21 May 2015 08:40 PM
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